Bill Austin joins us today to discuss his drive to join the military and his experiences while serving his country in Grenada, Bosnia, Kosovo as well as Afghanistan and Iraq. He explains why he decided to switch from the Army to the Air National Guard, his experiences while serving in each branch, and the challenges he faced in transitioning and adapting to the Air Guard’s culture. He describes the emotional turmoil military medical personnel experience when they lose a patient, the difficulties of dividing resources in an effort to save as many lives as possible, and the struggles of shutting off your emotions to ensure you’re providing the best care possible. Bill also discusses his medical discharge from the military and his experience of permanently returning home to his wife and son.
Joe joins us today to share his experience of serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He explains why he chose to enlist in the Army instead of waiting to be drafted, why he was anxious to fight in the Vietnam War, and how the realities of war compared to his initial expectations. He shares the shocking realities of returning home after serving in Vietnam, how he was treated, and why he felt like an ‘outsider’ even within the U.S borders. He discusses the impact that burying his feelings and emotions about losing battle buddies has had on his life, how it led to his addiction to alcohol, and how the gift of sobriety helped him cope with those buried emotions. Joe also shares his motivation to connect with veteran outreach programs and dedicate himself to helping other combat veterans.
“The greatest gift I have is to live a good life for those guys and gals that gave their life for me. And the only way I can really thank them is by living a good life because of them.”Joe Campbell
Born and raised in Illinois, Joe Campbell graduated from the Marmion Military Academy in 1965. Shortly after, he enlisted and served four years in the U.S. Army. During his enlistment, Joe served with the 8th Infantry Division in Bad Kreuznach, Germany as well as the 1st Logistical Command in Vietnam. Over the last several decades, Joe has committed himself to serve and help other military veterans. He has served as a Trustee for the Milwaukee County War Memorial Corporation, Inc, a Chaplain with the Vietnam Veterans of America Milwaukee Chapter, and has held executive positions at several veteran-oriented organizations, including his own machinery and welding company. Due to his service and commitment to help his fellow veterans, Joe has received several awards and accolades, including the 2018 Patriot Award from the War Memorial Center and the 2007 Veteran of the Year Award by Milwaukee County.
Guitars for Vets: Healing Invisible Wounds of War Through Music & Pet Companions with Dan Van Buskirk
Dan joins us today to share why he decided to join the military and his experiences while serving in the Vietnam War. He shares his experiences as a child growing up with an abusive mother and how these experiences helped him develop the survival skills he’d need on the battlefield. He shares how his spiritual beliefs and devotion to God helped him cope with trauma. He discusses why it took over two decades to seek help for his post-combat PTSD, why it was challenging to find help sooner, and how reaching out and connecting to other veterans was the turning point in his healing process. He also shares the Guitars for Vets and HAVEN missions and how they help veterans cope with PTSD through the power of music and pet companions.
David Carlson joins me today to discuss his troubling childhood upbringing – from being raised in chronic toxic environments, acting out and trouble with the law to joining the military and rebuilding his life. He shares his battles with substance abuse, why he chose to join the Army National Guard, and how the structure and discipline he received during basic and infantry training improved his perspective about his self-worth and his sense of identity. He shares his experiences while serving two tours in Iraq and the stark differences in structure and discipline between military life and civilian culture. He also shares his experiences with losing sight of his purpose in life, how CrossFit and what inspired him to dedicate his life to serving and helping others. Working with the Orban Foundation for Veterans to instill hope in those seeking it.
Be sure to check into tomorrow morning for a new two-part episode of Stigma Free Vet Zone with our friend, Joe Campbell.
In this episode, Joe explains how he met Kim Phuc Phan Thi, a Vietnamese woman who was badly burned from a napalm bomb during the Vietnam War and author of Fire Road, and how meeting Kim helped Joe heal from the emotional trauma he experienced during the war.
He also talks about his spiritual awakening of forgiveness and service of gratitude.
Dr. Michael joins me today to share his experiences as a doctor treating patients during times when professional experiences go beyond medical expectations. He shares his experiences and emotional turmoil of working in the VA ward as a resident doctor while treating military veterans with advanced cardio-pulmonary disease when CPR was still a new concept. He discusses his battle with depression and taking anti-depression medications, such as lithium. He also shares his thoughts on how the medical field can prepare new doctors to expect the unexpected while working with veteran patients and why creating a support team around you is critical to overcoming depression.
In part two, Bob Bach joins us to share his journey of seeking help and finding resources to address his combat-related PTSD symptoms and how numbing his emotions after returning home and re-entering civilian life impacted his relationships with his wife, children, and loved ones. He discusses his experience with alcohol abuse, how it added to the distress he was already experiencing after returning home, and how he finally found the help he needed to address his emotions and painful thoughts. Bob also explains why it’s important for veterans and their families to understand that the feelings and emotions they’re experiencing when transitioning from military life to civilian life are normal and why it’s crucial for veterans to ask for help and seeking treatment so they can rebuild a normal, healthy life.Read More
Bob joins me today to share his experiences while serving his country through the Vietnam War era. He discusses how television and movies often glamorize the true colors of war, often leading to unrealistic expectations for young military recruits. He shares his experiences of being on patrol while under enemy fire and how coping techniques like controlling fears and anxiety played a role in surviving the Vietnam War. He also shares his experiences of returning home after serving in the military, how his expectations differed from reality, and why he felt disoriented and confused when transitioning back to civilian life.